Any visitor to the country does not need to look far to see the increasing rate of destitution among Nigerians. Definitely, Nigeria’s economic dilemma is daily forcing citizens to the fringes of human existence. While the economic hard times may have preceded the President Muhammadu Buhari administration, the present government should also take the blame for being too slow in coming up with clear-cut policies on the way out of this quagmire.
According to the National Bureau of Statistics, more than 100 million Nigerians are living on less than $1 per day out of an estimated 170 million population. That is far below the United Nation’s benchmark of at least $2 per day for the least deprived persons. Invariably, Nigeria’s enormous wealth has not reflected positively on the well-being of the citizens.
Moreover, despite the massive revenue from oil, 70% of Nigerians still live within the poverty bracket, which means that present and successive governments have been unable to translate the country’s huge natural resources to the improvement of citizen’s living standard.
All indices point to the fact that the alarming increase in poverty is attributable to poor governance. Evidence of terribly poor governance is palpable as it manifests in the corrupt, inept political leadership and weak civil institutions to dilapidated infrastructure. We deplore the increasing destitution in the country. It Is sad that while many Nigerians are living in grinding poverty in an oil-rich country, a privileged few wallow in opulence. We call on the government to take mitigating steps to bring the alarming situation under control.
A scenario where only a few are benefitting from the common patrimony while the vast majority is excluded may likely breed social discontent if not well addressed.
It is a truism that inadequate economic growth is the main cause of poverty in Nigeria, as the economy has a very narrow and weak base, depending mostly on the exportation of petroleum crude oil for revenue, even as the agricultural base has been frustrated and marginalized.
In addition, growing unemployment has also exacerbated the level of destitution among Nigerians, while other factors include problems in the productive sector, widening income inequality, and social conflict, including gender, inter-sectored and environmental issues. There is no gain-saying the fact poverty especially in the urban area has been made severe by low labour absorption capacity of the non-agricultural sector, especially manufacturing, which is because of limited growth of investment and technological innovation.
Arguably, enough has not been done to fight destitution in the country and the conditions that will give Nigerians the opportunity to earn decent and honest living remains a mirage.
The embarrassing paradox of destitution in Nigeria suggests the compelling need for a single-minded pursuit of the objective of poverty reduction and its eventual elimination.
We, therefore, call on all governments to step up the template for true development by re-energizing all the poverty alleviation programmes geared towards improving the living standard of the more vulnerable in our midst.
In this way, millions of Nigerians would move out of poverty and wanton lack, and to a more productive engagement in which all the basic necessities of life are met.